How your humble abode has become a depiction of your personal style, mood and lifestyle post-pandemic

In a post-Covid world, our living spaces have become sanctuaries. As we view our homes with a mounting ‘passion’, they have become an extension of our evolving personalities. A handful of Dubai-based experts share home truths from a fast-moving domain



by

Sushmita Bose

Published: Thu 22 Sep 2022, 7:51 PM

Last updated: Thu 22 Sep 2022, 7:54 PM

Growing up, there used to be ‘statement’ furniture at home… at least a few pieces that were invariably valued on the basis of vintage. That 50-year-old Burma teakwood whatnot (that was pronounced ‘what-nut’ by most folks in the family) placed near the dining table. The bone china dinner set that became a prop, never tableware. That mahogany four-poster bed that belonged to my father’s grandfather. Yes, they were gorgeous (most times) and there were dollops of sentiment attached, but there was also — most importantly — sturdiness. That translated into functionality. Furniture was meant to be functional. In case a new sofa set or bed was purchased (because the ‘old’ one had finally caved in, and no amount of ‘fixing’ could fix it), it was with the intent of “for keeps”… a lifetime for sure… then maybe the next generation could avail of its functionality.

Unless you belonged to the upper echelons, whenever guests came home, nobody cared about themes or colour coordination or (deliberate) pops of patina. Or the fact that the way you ‘designed’ your interiors could be a reflection of your personality.

I’m a late convert to the new-fangled interiors trend. For a decade, I flaunted burnt red and gold as my home mood setting. Till Covid happened, and home became sacrosanct and personal. Amid the pandemic gloom, I decided yellow would be my sunshine shade — a marriage between Tuscany and mustard yellow. In the curtains department, I went from floral to monotone. “You’re being feckless,” my father told me the other day. “You should stay the course with one kind of setting… That’s what we did…”

But, as Adriana Kostic, head of marketing at Pan Emirates, puts it: “Furniture no longer serves only a utilitarian function, it has become a vehicle for self-expression, much in the same way fashion has been for a long time.”

Today, if my phone was hacked and someone went through my search history, at least half of my searches will have to do with homey stuff. I am excited that, in a few days’ time, a new yellow accent chair that I’ve ordered online is coming my way. Sometime back, I bought a wooden writing table that I didn’t really need. I thought it would lend character to my living room. If I have time to kill, I look up furniture/home decor sites. If I’m in a mall, I gravitate towards furniture/home decor stores. If I’m watching a movie or a show, the first thing I notice is how much the art direction has factored in furniture/furnishings settings. If I’m at somebody’s place, I judge the furniture; no, not by the price value, but how much of an effort one has taken to do up his/her place… you can get riveting stuff with very affordable price tags.

Nisrine El Lababidi – Founder, Harf Noon Design Studio

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“Just like in fashion, trends are now seasonal and affordable and homes are a depiction of one’s personal style, mood and lifestyle… You will find interior trends across all price points, from high-end brands to budget-friendly options — making it easy for consumers to experiment. Think, for example, of updating your living room with cushions, a throw or a few simple accessories like a new vase or bowl that can be switched from season to season. Even home scents are now becoming seasonal with pumpkin spice candles in autumn and fresh lemon and lavender for spring.

People tend to give their homes a makeover when they want to move home but can’t, so small updates like new paint, accessories and curtain change can breathe newness... This is particularly prevalent post-Covid… during the pandemic, we spent more time at home and realised the value in looking after our environment…

For me, personally, home changes need to fall within a sustainable framework. I hate seeing a good piece go to the bin and always try to preserve good furniture and accessories by repurposing them at best or selling/donating them when possible. Now, more than ever, we need to think of circular living. Thankfully, consumers are now more aware of that, but designers will need to continue to push for it too and to educate on this topic.

Homes, should be extensions to our personalities — think of personal branding for your space with what makes you unique. For example, your home can overflow with your favourite books, photographs or even collection of water bottles from around the world… it could even be a specific interest in colour.

I had a better understanding of the matter when I wrote my book Homes: We Make Them, They Make Us. Each and every one of the featured homes had its own personality reflecting its owner’s interests, lives and family dynamics. They were each special in their own way… none of them was following any particular trend but rather incorporating their own uniqueness into their homes.”

Neeti Tandon Kashyap – Founder, Curate Home

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“Much like fashion, interiors are a reflection of our personal style, our mood and also a social statement. As these evolve, so do our desire to change the look of our homes. BUT there’s a flip side! I have worked in apparel manufacturing and have seen the colossal waste and damage fast fashion wrecks on the planet. Sustainability is at the core of our business. We work directly with makers and creators to offer one of a kind pieces that will be timeless and always coveted in your homes… We are advocates of slow, conscious and mindful living, and take great care and attention to create products that are special, beautiful and will bring joy to yourçhome for years to come. Natural fabrics, weaves, manufacturing techniques that go back generations all contribute to making a modern heirloom. Buy well and you will not need to keep buying more. While I don’t want to be labelled a ‘minimalist’, and I love collecting special pieces that have a story attached to them, I am not swayed by trends: I prefer to get things that will last forever and not lose appeal with seasonal design changes. I like to play around with different styles and create a look that is unique and all my own. I like to repurpose, reupholster, repaint furniture to change the look without actually changing the furniture. I like to add vintage textiles, rugs and objects around to give my home a timeless look. Having said that, your home should reflect who you are, be your own personal signature and not a cookie cutter replica of trends. It is the small details and personal touches that make your home stand out from the rest.”

Kapil Aidasani - Director, Casa Lusso Furniture

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“Dubai has become a magnet for fashion and interior inspirations. With each passing year, you can see how people are drawn and driven to not just elevate their personal style but also reflect the same in their homes. With the multitude of brand options in the country, all budgets can find their way to stay on-trend. The pandemic took us back into our homes and over the past two years, it has become the new normal to socialise at home and to treat your home like a sanctuary.

Customers are way more exposed to interior trends than ever before — and that is thanks to social media... it is easy to change the style of your living space with either small accessory or an accent piece of furniture. Every new piece of furniture brings its own vibe and energy into a living space.

Homes are an extension of people and their personalities. It is natural for a customer to want their home to reflect their style. Our team works with clients to try and achieve their vision in every way possible, so whether it is the way a throw is a placed on a sofa or a cushion is arranged on a bed, our aim is to make sure that a client’s style, personality and preference is reflected. People will go to any lengths to find the right piece that adds the special and personal touch to their living spaces.”

Fatima Al Omar – Senior interior designer, Interiors

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“Social media has been the major force behind this constant need/feeling of change in home interiors. People are on the lookout for what’s trending or what’s ‘next’ in the market and I believe this is due to the fact that this information is easily accessible through platforms such an Instagram and Pinterest when one is laying down on their couch. I also believe that travelling has broadened people’s horizons to a whole new level.

I keep with the latest trends via social media, and I’m always on the lookout for what is trending the most especially in our GCC region. People are not how they used to be and are much more aware of the ins and outs of the business and, as a designer, to keep up with that means you need to connect with them on the same level. As an employee, however, I always try to bring attention the new trends that are in season and how we can — as a retail business — attract customers by keeping up with that through the supply of furniture items and/or accessories that can add life to any household/interior space.

I have noticed how homes have started reflecting the homeowner’s personality — and I absolutely love that! Every interior space should reflect its owner’s personality, especially their quirks. At the end of the day, you want to come home to a place that you can call your own and feel your own self in. I believe any home owner has the right to portray their true selves within the interior of their homes and have that speak for them.”

Adriana Kostic – Head of marketing, Pan Emirates

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“Fast furniture is a relatively recent phenomenon. One of the main drivers behind this phenomenon are online channels and social media platforms; latest home furnishing trends, quality and price comparisons are available to all at a click of a button. With so many options out there, it’s become easy for customers to try out and play around with different looks to personalise their style.

The home is no longer just about functional comfort… homes are a medium for consumers to distinguish their personal style and portray how they feel about themselves. Whether it’s through the perfect dining table, sofa, or even a nightstand, expressing an individual style is a significant aspect of today’s society. For customers, this manifests as an enthusiasm for modularity, personalisation and customisation of home décor, furniture, and textiles in order to create a home that’s unique.”

Harry Tregoning – Founder, Tregoning Maintenance

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“We do more of the creation of aesthetics rather than the design, but I do notice has been a shift in design… it’s possibly driven by the fact that more properties are being done up for owner occupiers rather than just restoring them for tenants. There has also been a much bigger drive for plain colours and simple, clean designs. We upgrade many bathrooms and gone are the multi-colour pastel sanitary ware of the 80s and 90s… these days, sleeker, more basic designs have taken over.

Improving properties is definitely an addiction and one improvement generally leads to another. Recently, I visited a client who was delighted with her new bathroom and even before it is finished is planning the next one. Her husband has put the brakes on that for a few months….

Quirky designs are usually personally introduced or by their designers. However, one big trend we have seen is the rise of Instagram for people to send ideas to copy from. It used to be Pinterest but the easy access to Instagram has really driven new options and tastes.

Through my work in property and also in maintenance, I have seen some fairly niche tastes in customer’s homes. One senior lady had her Grand Theft Auto set installed in her villa, and another apartment in the Palm was decked out in bearskins…”

Nathalie Khouri – Interior designer, The Cozy Interiors

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“The entire landscape of interiors has changed — and more so since Covid and lockdowns. Remember those times when our couches were covered in plastic until our third cousin came to visit for Ramadan? Yeah, that’s over! Most of us have spent more time at home in the past two years than we have ever spent in our entire lives. Many discovered their homes are not very comfortable, so as they spent more time at home, different areas suddenly needed a lot of TLC: kitchens, home offices, and living areas. As the trend to fix those areas are rising, the region is seeing more retailers — from large international brands to local homegrown ones — invest in their online stores, making it easy and affordable for customers to shop for home goods.

Brands like IKEA have upped their game by introducing great furniture design at very affordable prices. So, why not change things around at home every season? Our home is our sanctuary, it’s no longer a place to just sleep, it’s a place where we spend more and more time, working, entertaining and, most importantly, living! A home is not your home if it doesn’t represent you.

Of the emerging trends in furniture... an interesting one is the desire to own ‘must-have’ pieces. Take the growing popularity of the Eames lounge chair, which is copied by so many different brands. This chair is the equivalent of the fashion world’s little black dress.

[In my company] We have found ways to incorporate new design trends into our proposals. We try to play around with things that won’t be too costly to change season after season — like feature walls or light fixtures or single pieces of furniture that are easily exchangeable. However, I do try to think about quality over quantity. I want to make sure that I work within my client’s budget and not waste their money on expensive items that they may not want to use in a few seasons. The goal of this interior trend is to be smart in the selection of execution… so we spend time with clients understanding their needs, wants and, most importantly, their passions.”

Amisha Aiya Interior designer, Mivido Faktur Interior Design Studio “Changing furniture as per design trends has been majorly influenced by the merging of design styles with minimalism. Minimalism gives the freedom to add or subtract furniture and decor pieces as per latest trends. Covid has played a major role in giving people enough time to think and revamp their homes, to which their first approach has been researching trending designs.

As an industry trend, this has been observed — big-time —in spaces that are rented. After tourism being back in action, short-term rental spaces are subscribing to it as property owners prefer ‘trendily’ designed apartments rather than investing in furniture with a long shelf-life... compared to ‘long-term’ furniture, these are also a cost saver if anything is damaged.”


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